Horses You Will Meet While Clipping

The Saint!
The Saint!

The Saint

This is what you hope they all are! These horses like being clipped. They stand still, they don’t care how much you climb over or under them, will happily have their face clipped and will probably even hold up a leg by themselves if you ask nicely.

MC Hammer

You can’t touch this. You haven’t a hope of actually clipping it.

Zero f**ks given

This is the version of the saint where you go to clip a first timer or a young horse expecting some form of interest or incident but they are oblivious to it all and simply don’t care. Some will seem oblivious to the fact that you are doing anything out of the norm.

The One Sided Wonder

Will happily allow you to clip side one without incident and will lure you into a false sense of security. Horse will then decide that one sided clips are the new season trend and will decide they don’t really want side two done as well. On a serious note this is simply because of how a horses brain works – getting one side done doesn’t in some cases equate to them behaving the same on the other side so always treat each side as a new start.

Back to Front

These horses are all about positioning. When the human is positioned to the side or behind the horse, the horse is happy to stand quietly. If the human positions themselves in front of the animal, the animal reacts by moving around or going backwards. I’ve seen this quirk a few times and it is usually not restricted to clipping. The work around is simple, be aware of your positioning. Start at the horses shoulder, work around his belly and back end and when clipping the neck / shoulders and face, do so while at their shoulder with you and the machine facing forwards. It is always amazing how much a clipper and handler position and body language will influence a horses behaviour.

Not into being tied up

Tying up certain horses just leads to more stress than the clipping itself and will end up with the horse bracing against the rope, breaking the rope and / or panicking. Again the solution is usually simple. If you have a handler, have them hold the horse and use a mini lick to distract them. If you are by yourself, I usually find that with these horses the perception of freedom will solve the problem. Clip in a stable or closed off area. Put on a headcollar and lead rope, put the lead rope over the neck and work away while the horse stands – if you need to steady him you can quickly access the rope.

The one who goes away from you

These horses look at you like you are the headless horseman and head away at speed. Often this happens before the clippers is even switched on! My own personal belief is that a horse who runs away from something they dislike is safer and preferable to those that run at you and therefore the behaviour should be managed and not punished. There is a risk that removing the ability of these horses to move away will cause them to react in less desirable ways. Often these horses are a slow starter and are grand once you get the machine on them. A good handler is key for managing these horses. For those that walk off, returning them to the same spot each time will often reinforce that they need to stand still and have nothing to fear. Again a lick held by the handler can be used to reward good behaviour.

The one who goes towards you

This ranges from coming at you legs or teeth first because they don’t want to be clipped or coming at you with misplaced affection which is dangerous because trying to clip the head of a beast that wants to lick you is not easy. For the former, blocks or bales between you and the horse helps as a safety guard and a good handler will be necessary.

The Bulldozer

These are usually built like a tank and thanks to their width and height have learned in life that if they go where they want – most things will get out of their way. These often are not actually scared of being clipped at all, they just don’t feel like standing around while you do it. If you are handling a bulldozer you will want a bridle not a headcollar to have any hope of holding them.

Little Mr / Miss Tickle

These have one spot that tickles and they will twitch it as you try and clip it so that your lines look terrible! Often the spot is the stifle so in this case put your hand their first and give a vigorous rub to desensitise a bit. Tickly horses will often twitch as you do leg lines as well so either have someone pick up the other leg of firmly put your spare hand on the area as you clip it to minimise movement.

The One with That Spot

These horses have one spot they just don’t like having clipped. It is often an area where there is little fat coverage and the vibration can be felt (typically the chin). Other spots will often be the belly, inside the hind legs and the ears. (at my height the ears are the bane of my life!). Whatever part it is, leave it until last so you can finish once it is done and this rewards the animal for standing still.

The Haunted

Terrified of the clippers and the process full stop. Will fret even if another horse nearby is being done. History / memory may play a part. Quiet machines, drugs and routine may help but can take a long time to get over the fear.

The One That Hates The Noise

Equestrian version of hating the dentists drill! Using a quiet machine is the obvious thing here but what is painful is that the behaviour usually starts again every time you switch back on the machine so while the horse settles down at the start, you end up ‘resetting’ them each time you switch back on. . One tip if you are using two machines, during the switch over, switch on second machine before turning off the first – this way there is no gap in the noise.

The Head Thrower

Not always frightened, just has the knack of firing up the head just as you go to clip something. This is especially annoying if the horse is tall and you are not!

The Slow Starter

Reacts frightened when machine is switched on but grand once the machine is actually on their skin for a moment. May need machine held in place for a few minutes to settle down and relax. Their brain takes a moment to understand that it is only a clippers and doesn’t hurt.

The Walking Carpet

Manages to grow a three inch thick coat as soon as Autumn appears.

The Instant Weightloss

Grows a fluffy coat that grows outwards rather than flat to the body which adds visual bulk. Usually looks a lot slimmer when the hair comes off!

The Quietly Unimpressed

Is mannerly enough not to move the part of them that you are clipping but will demonstrate lack of enthusiasm for the process by swishing the tail or stamping legs on the end you are not working on.

The Watcher

Hates blind spots. Needs to see what you are doing and then feels calm.

The Wrecking Ball

Easy to clip but distracts themselves by chewing on or breaking anything left near them. Will chew rugs and brushes, insists on pushing inanimate objects over and has to investigate everything. Best kept away from electrical cables!


All content on this site is my own original content. Please do not reproduce in any other form without my prior permission. Thanks, L


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